• Vol. 33 No. 4, 503–509
  • 15 July 2004

How Much do Diabetic Patients Know About Diabetes Mellitus and its Complications?



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Introduction: A Singapore study reported that 99% of diabetics had received some diabetes mellitus (DM) education. Another study reported that the Singapore public is generally well-informed about DM but whether diabetics are well-informed is not known. The objectives of this study were to determine DM knowledge of diabetics visiting the Emergency Department (ED) and to determine the diabetics’ knowledge versus practice gap.

Materials and Methods: A pretested questionnaire was used to survey a convenient sample of ED patients and visitors. The respondents were required to answer 43 questions on areas including “Risk Factors”, “Treatment and Management” and “Monitoring”. A point was awarded for each correct response. Diabetics were asked if they practised the items described in “Treatment and Management” and “Monitoring” sections.

Results: There were 95 diabetics and 91 non-diabetics surveyed, with no difference in the mean age or the proportion of men. There was no difference (P = 0.51) between the diabetics’ mean score of 29.2/43 (68.1%) and the non-diabetics’ 28.3/43 (65.9%). The younger diabetics tended to score higher with those <54.99 years obtaining the highest score of 34.2/43 (79.5%) in the study. More than 50% of diabetics practised what they knew of self-care but 25% were ignorant of key aspects like need for home glucose monitoring and regular ophthalmic reviews. Only 21.2% diabetics performed home glucose monitoring though another 42.1% knew they should but were not doing it.

Conclusion: In this study, knowledge of DM was similar between diabetics and non-diabetics even though younger diabetics obtained higher scores. Diabetes education resulted in better-informed diabetics and changed practices but 25% were ignorant of some key aspects. Among the informed diabetics, various issues need to be addressed to close the gaps between knowledge and practice.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a common and growing healthcare problem in Singapore with a prevalence of 9% in 1998. Since the 1990s, the Ministry of Health, Singapore has identified DM as a priority condition for disease control.

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